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Thread: Hemistich Hysteria!

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  1. #1
    Has a few recurring issues kborsden's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Where opinions have a distinct aroma.

    Hemistich Hysteria!

    To understand what hemistich is, we need to start with the basics: monostich. Many people might think monostich is easy, simple poetry, just a single line -- couldn't be easier. Those people are wrong. Monostich is a single line of poetry, but it is defined in its complexity by the following factors and musts:

    • use of poetic device (linguistic and/or figurative)
    • a complete thought, not a fragmented sentence
    • syntactically correct
    • rhythmic use of phonology
    • un-punctuated apart from capital first letter and period/fullstop
    • present no other possibility or option for punctuation
    • not be breakable into more than one line -- i.e have no defined caesura

    So if that's monostich, what is hemistich? Hemistich presents itself in pretty much the same way, save for one difference, the caesura (a pause in speech for a short breath). Hemistich is in this way actually a 2 piece monostich, a verse constructed from 2 parts: A verse and B verse (or put another way, verse part A and verse part B -- in actuality each verse part is a hemistich, they formulate a prosodic unit, or whole verse/line, but you can't have just one hemistich without the other). There should only be one defined caesura. Accent and dialect, speech patterns etc may formulate moderate caesuras within the line, which is why hemistich demands a weighted caesura to separate the 2 sections. It also makes use of elevated (or 'lifted') vowels. Think here the pronunciation of the vowel 'a', whether it is pronounced as 'ah' or 'ay'. The latter is an example of an elevated vowel. The same goes for 'eh/ee' and so forth. Each section of the hemistich, A verse and B verse, will only have 2 elevated vowels*. Hemistich is also only ever punctuated additionally (when necessary) at the caesura - by (semi)colon or comma.

    As a poetry game, I thought we could use the B verse of each post as the A verse for the next. I'll go first, as I like to, and annotate in my example the weighted caesura (you don't have to, but remember no punctuation other than what has been mentioned already), and the elevated vowels for ease of illustration. Then my next post will be the start of the game...

    (A verse) I am inside the door | at an eastern mount's peak (B Verse)

    Next A verse:

    at an eastern mount's peak

    ETA: neither meter, nor syllable count is important -- only the lifts and caesura
    *Alliterated verse is a primordial verse form that makes use of hemistich where alliteration is also present, in such cases the elevated vowels are referred to as 'lifts' and are only present in words that are alliterated. Also, aliteration is only allowed in the 1st syllable of a word as Germanic languages are articulated in their root --

    example alliterated verse
    Last edited by kborsden; 11-09-2011 at 03:22 PM.
    Kieran Borsden
    "to be born Welsh, is to be born--not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but with song in your heart, and poetry in your soul"

    -->Read Me

    Got to write an Englyn or 2

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